What leads to a healthy (or unhealthy) pond? Look upstream to find out. Many of the pollution sources that can lead to algae issues, low dissolved oxygen, muddy water, and poor fish habitat in ponds often originate from the landscape that surrounds it. Runoff can carry excess nutrients, organic matter, sediment, and bacteria from your yard into your pond and can contribute to unhealthy pond conditions. Fortunately, there are simple actions you can take to help.
You’ve heard this phrase before – get your soil tested. Healthy soils support healthy lawns and gardens with dense root systems that protect upland areas from erosion, reducing sediment and infill in ponds. Plus, the prescriptive recommendations in a soil test help make sure you are applying the right amount and type of fertilizer for your soil and lawn, which helps to reduce the amount of nutrients that are lost to your backyard waterway. You can find out more info in HGIC 1652, Soil Testing.
Go a step further and consider incorporating more native plants into your landscape plan. Native plants are well adapted to our South Carolina soils, reducing the need for additional inputs, like fertilizers, that when applied incorrectly, are a source of nutrients that contribute to nuisance algae blooms in the pond. Native plants are also better adapted to our climate, meaning that, if planted in the right place, they may have a lower irrigation demand than non-native alternatives, helping to conserve water in your lawn and reducing potential runoff to the pond. Want to find out more info on the benefits of native plants? Read HGIC 1852, An Introduction to Native Plants for SC Landscapes. And, don’t forget the perks of a native plant buffer around the pond which helps to help slow runoff, prevent erosion, and act like a filter to help protect water quality. Interested in info on buffers? Then HGIC 1855, Shorescaping Freshwater Shorelines is the read for you.
Bacteria is the most common type of pollution in our South Carolina waterways, with common sources including pet waste, poorly maintained septic tanks, and wildlife. Bacteria solutions can include making sure to pick up pet waste in your yard, working with a professional to have your septic tank regularly inspected and pumped, and deterring populations of residential Canada geese populations. Check out the HGIC 1854, Resident Canada Geese: Management Options factsheets for info on deterrence and control options.